Daily Archives: 4 February 2005

Volga Germans Steer for Home

The invaluable Argus notes a story about Volga Germans in Kazakhstan.

ALMATY, 1 February (IRIN) – For Irina Geisler, a young ethnic German in the Kazakh commercial capital of Almaty, ‘returning’ to Germany, couldn’t be more natural. “I feel German. It’s my dream,” the 19-year-old linguistics student told IRIN. Her application for German citizenship currently awaits approval.

“All my life I’ve heard about Germany. It’s part of my life,” she said with a German accent heavily influenced by the Schwabian roots of her ancestors. Such dreams remain strong for thousands of such ethnic Germans in today’s Kazakhstan, with many of Irina’s friends torn between both countries. “Half of the young ethnic Germans would like to return, the other half don’t want to leave Kazakhstan,” Geisler conceded, describing it as an individual decision many young people like her still face.

“I’ve thought about going to Germany but I’ve finished my education already,” 29-year-old Evgenija Mayer, an employee at the Fredrich Ebert Stiftung in Almaty, told IRIN. “I worry I would have to start all over again.” But starting again is precisely what hundreds of thousands like her have done already. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, more than 900,000 ethnic Germans and their families have emigrated to Germany, the German Embassy in Almaty told IRIN.

Leave a comment

Filed under Germany, USSR

Bird Brains over Mammals

Marginal Revolution‘s Tyler Cowen is for the birds:

… behavioral studies in recent years have proved that many birds have more pallium power than your average mammal.

Even seemingly moronic pigeons can categorize objects as “human-made” vs. “natural”; discriminate between cubistic and impressionistic styles of painting; and communicate using visual symbols on computers, according to evidence compiled by the consortium, which spent seven years on the project with input from scientists around the world.

Some birds can play games in which they intentionally tell lies. New Caledonian crows design and make tools. Scrub jays can recall events from specific times or places — a trait once thought unique to humans. And perhaps most impressive, parrots, hummingbirds and thousands of other species of songbirds are able to teach and learn vocal communication — the basic skill that makes human language possible. That’s a variant of social intelligence not found in any mammal other than people, bats, and cetaceans such as dolphins and whales.

Bats? Brainy as a bat? Whoa!

Leave a comment

Filed under science